Thank you to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this book!
I got this book about a week back and I really like the concept of the book. It follows the main character, Zahru, who was chosen to be the sacrifice of a royal kingdom. There are three heirs to the throne who must race across the desert to kill her in order to ascend to the throne. This world is full of magic, including both “lowly magic” such as talking to animals and more powerful elemental magic. The court politics add a lot to this book, and the dynamics between the three heirs and even Zahru are interesting and well thought out.
I did enjoy the magic system in it, and I liked how it was intertwined throughout the story. Sometimes, I did wish that there were less types of magic, since it got a little confusing as to what the extents were. I wish that there were more clear categories of magic too, since there were so many characters with so many different powers. It was interesting that Zahru could talk to animals though (being a Whisperer), and I feel like it’s a more unique type of magic. I haven’t seen much of it, besides the last book I read, Hunted by the Sky, by some coincidence.
I liked reading about all three heirs, but I definitely enjoyed reading about Kasta the most. I feel like he is the most morally-grey, which makes him more interesting to read about. He has a more sad backstory, which definitely plays some of his actions and characteristics throughout the story. You could kind of tell that he was a good person deep down, but his choices can sometimes be both wrong and cruel. I definitely felt bad for him throughout the book, and I totally want what’s best for him throughout the series. He also gives me slight Cardan vibes (from The Cruel Prince) which I also liked.
I didn’t really connect to Jet as much, but he wasn’t a bad character. I feel like he was more of your average protagonist, and I wish that there was more to him. I did like that he’s trying to get better from all the bad decisions he made though, and that he’s trying to improve himself. You could tell that he really does care for his family, and that he’s grown from the past. Compared to Kasta though, I feel like he was more boring.
I like Zahru, but there were definitely times where I was like “you’re making the wrong decision!” However, I feel like a lot of that may stem from her youth, and it did contribute to the plot. Her humor was interesting to read about though, and I enjoyed reading about her as the main character. I also liked Maia, one of the supporting characters, and I thought that her binding to Kasta was quite interesting, along with the fact that Zahru could read her mind (due to her being a Whisperer).
There’s definitely a clear love-triangle in this book, which usually aren’t my favorite. I didn’t hate this one too much though, but I’m definitely rooting for one of the relationships. I found that there was a little bit of an insta-love in this book, which bothered me since it’s not really my thing. I feel like it happened too quickly and you could already tell that they would be together right from the second they meet. I haven’t really liked many insta-love books though, so I’d say that this is a more personal preference thing. The second relationship is definitely more hate-to-love (?) and slow-burn and I need them together to finally feel good.
The actual plot of the story picks up a lot in the last 50 pages or so of the book. There is a lot more action and things that happen, and I feel like it ends at a good place for a sequel to the story. The epilogue was really interesting to read about since it brought in a new perspective, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next! I’d recommend this to anyone who likes the synopsis of the book, as I really enjoyed it!